Press Releases

Elmgreen & Dragset to Curate the Danish and Nordic Pavilion

Published 2008/01/18

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset Photo: Simon Irgens








The Nordic Committee and the Danish Arts Council are pleased to announce that Elmgreen & Dragset have been selected to curate both the Danish Pavilion and the Nordic Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2009. The cooperation between the Danish Pavilion and the Nordic Pavilion marks a first time collaboration in their respective exhibition histories. The project was launched with the intent to dismantle the stranglehold of national representation and to designate instead a transnational "neighbourhood" within the context of the upcoming Venice Biennale. The selection of Elmgreen & Dragset as curators/artists also marks an effort to construct a common space as an allegorical set through two interrelated but individual stories although fictional in context. In doing so, the project attempts to convey the particular, personal, and microcosmic against a wider landscape of the spectacle of the Venice Biennale to explore the increasingly porous sectors of private and public.

As a point of departure, Elmgreen & Dragset envisage both a common and unprecedented territory of the Danish Pavilion and Nordic Pavilion as a metaphor — one that presupposes the inhabitability of both pavilions by treating each as a home, a domestic environment in scale and in design. The artists set out within the upcoming months to choreograph a project that allows the architecture and developed interior of each pavilion play a role as a signifier for the exhibition concept. In doing so, Elmgreen & Dragset set out to curate one coherent exhibition that embodies two individual homes to transgress the pavilion as an exhibition platform by subverting its function and by approaching ideas relating to socio-cultural, sexual and spiritual affiliations.

The Project and Sub-themes:

The Danish Pavilion and the Nordic Pavilion, located adjacent to one another within the Giardini, will be brought into a territorial and conceptual interrelationship through an exploration of a set of complex psychological structures based on devotion, desire, cultural ambitions, boredom, and vanity. Elmgreen & Dragset will, through their curatorial endeavour, artistic mandate, and future research, author the project by inviting the participation of international artists, and the incorporating of art works and historical artefacts without geographical or historical categorization. The following sub-themes will be taking into consideration:

On Collecting

In their approach, the artists, as curators, observe spacial conditions that produce obvious expressions and codified behaviours reflecting what Walter Benjamin writes in "Unpacking My Library" as "property and possession belonging to the tactical sphere." Elmgreen & Dragset investigate the socio-cultural and psychological aspects of obsessiveness and how that may be manifested within the activity of collecting.

On Intimacy, Sexuality and Queerness

As curators, Elmgreen & Dragset will refer to concerns already reflected in their own artistic practice in which they pursue a conscious cultural posture that abstracts from issues of power, sex and marginalized or subcultural behavioural patterns in an alignment with architectonics and style — as ways of emphasizing the "private" as a reflection of the particular, singular and non-generic in further exploring social subject matters of class, privilege, gender, nationality.

About Elmgreen & Dragset

Michael Elmgreen (b. 1961, Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (b. 1969, Trondheim, Norway) live and work in Berlin and have been collaborating since 1995. Through the last decade, they have been showing their works in numerous institutions including Tate Modern, Serpentine Gallery, MCA Chicago, New Museum, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Hamburger Bahnhof, MMK Frankfurt, Louisiana Museum, Moderna Museet, Bergen Kunsthall and Kunsthalle Zürich.

The Commissioners

The Nordic Committee is made up of Marketta Seppälä, Director, FRAME in Helsinki, Finland, Ann-Sofi Noring, Deputy Director, Chief Curator, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, and Marta Kuzma, Director, Office for Contemporary Art in Oslo, Norway. Marta Kuzma also serves as Commissioner for the Nordic Pavilion in 2009. The Danish Art Council's Committee for International Visual Arts is made up of five members and Christine Buhl Andersen serves as its Chairperson. The cooperation between the Danish Pavilion and the Nordic Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2009 is coordinated as a joint venture between the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) and the Danish Arts Council. The project in its entirety is supported with funds allocated by the Danish Arts Council, FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange, Moderna Museet, and the Office for Contemporary Art Norway.

Accompanying Programme of Lectures and Presentations

An accompanying programme of lectures and presentations will take place at international locations throughout the development of the project. The first in this series will include a presentation by the Elmgreen & Dragset in relation to their past work and production to be held at [OCA, NYC] on Monday, 3 March, at 19:00. For further information on this upcoming event, please refer to


For press inquiries related to this announcement and the project and for interviews with the artists, please contact the following:
In Norway and international: Siri Koren Furre, Press Officer at Office for Contemporary Art Norway, at
In Denmark and international: Lene Lund Hansen, Press Officer at the Danish Arts Council, at